Wednesday, March 31, 2010

America the Beautiful

While the rest of my family celebrated their second day of chag (ha!) I took Raphaela out for a walk, as the rain had subsided for the most part, and I felt the need to do something with my body besides eat.

I have lived in Israel for close to 13 years, and had not been back to the East Coast to visit in four years, and so I was struck by the preponderance of water, trees and space. Whereas in Israel we watch every drop of water and have dual flush systems in our bathrooms, Americans seem to take water for granted both inside their homes and outside. There are brooks in the middle of lush parks, and trees with giant thick trunks and more park areas than I can count. For the first time in years, I take a ten minute shower and never run out of hot water. It feels extravagant to me, when in fact it is the American lifestyle.

I cannot complain, my apartment in Jerusalem is nice, I have enough room to work and play and it has a good feng shui. My parents' house looks modest from the outside, but has four floors and seven bedrooms, a proper salon and dining room, and a separate play room and basement. Not to mention an actual backyard rather than a sad little patch of grass. There is a sense of division of space, and privacy, and for all that I have chosen to sacrifice in living in Israel, I don't think I will ever give up on the dream of a house, even if it is not the size or scope of my parents.

Despite the law, most construction projects in Israel conveniently ignore the need to install handicap access ramps and make sidewalks safe and stroller friendly. In contrast, it is a pleasure to take Raphaela out in the stroller in my parents' neighborhood, the upkeep on the roads and walkways keep them smooth and comfortable, dare I say civilized.

I won't even begin the discussion on the difference of the level of customer service I have experienced.

One of my concerns about the length of this trip was that the longer I would stay, and the more I would reconnect with family and friends, the harder it would be to return to Israel. I want to raise my daughter in Israel, because it is much more representative of my value system as a person and as Jew; but it is hard to argue with the allure of the United States.

Then I remember that Barack Hussein Obama was elected President here. At least in Israel, our enemies don't wear the fancy suits and give charismatic speeches, we know exactly what they intend.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Same Only Different

I start with the positive, saying that Raphaela remains a happy social child despite not having slept properly since Sunday morning, Jerusalem time. We braved the New England rain to go to shul today, just to get out of the house, and she loved all the attention she received when we walked into the room. ("Is this the baby? Good for you..." etc) Not having any responsibility tonight regarding a second seder, I bathed Raphaela at the regular time, read her book and put her to bed earlier than her usual (5 pm). Then I crawled into bed myself, and for the first time in three days got more than two hours of sleep at a time.

And for the first time in three days my milk came in, so I can finally feed my child in the manner to which she has become accustomed.

That's the good news. Unfortunately, I arrived with a series of expectations of free on the spot babysitting, and at this point, the stewardesses on the plane have spent more quality time with my daughter than her grandparents. I know that we arrived right before Pessach, and I know that everyone is tired for their own reasons, but the several times I have asked for help when I was literally collapsing I have been told that they too need to nap or have some other job that seems to take precedence. (My brother watched her for about an hour this morning, so I could attempt a nap, at least that.)

I can only be disappointed if I have expectations, and so I must rid myself of the idea very quickly. This morning I put Raphaela into her car seat and took her with me into the bathroom while I showered and dressed. I can be a single parent without assistance in Jerusalem too.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Arrived Safely

Out of the 25 hours that Raphaela and I were in transit, she slept for a total of two of them. Seriously. She charmed people on both sides of the pond, and was so overstimulated by the contact with new people, new experiences, the safety movie on the plane and the baggage collection track, among other things.

Top prize for wonderful random acts of kindness go to the teenager in London who tied my shoe laces for me, because I was bogged down by a child in a sling and three small carry ons. And my thanks to Lisa and Sarah and the rest of the BA crew on the flight from London to Boston, who treated my daughter like a VIP, baby sat for me and had Raphaela hang out with the captain so I could take a nap. (I always wanted a tour of the cockpit...)

In general, people were kind to us, and enjoyed Raphaela's company, remarking that she was a "delightfully quiet baby" on the flight. I wish I could take credit for her warm smile, but I have always maintained that she was born that way. Kudos to my daughter for perfecting her projectile peeing in the baby changing room in Heathrow.

I have also spent the last 25 hours nursing, and my chest is sore, and my milk supply is on jet lag.

Now I must do a laundry and fumigate everything that we wore in the past day, we smell like airport.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Filling the Freezer

Normally I prepare bottles in advance of the needs of the week, for the care taker; but with our trip less than 12 hours away, I have been pumping milk and for the first time since Raphaela is born, I can store breast milk for the future. It feels fulfilling to know that I have "extra" milk for her, that I am performing as Raphaela's mother.

I did the math and figured out that our total transit time is about 22 hours, from the time we leave my house in Jerusalem and the time we arrive at my parents' door step in Boston. I hope that my milk does not dry up because of fatigue or stress, and have packed some formula just in case we get stuck without breast milk for example in the middle of Heathrow, in our five hour layover.

Back to my last minute packing, I am probably taking much more than either of us will need or use while in America. I must account for New England weather, which changes on the hour and is supposedly cold for the season.

As much as I am looking forward to this trip, to Raphaela meeting her cousins, I will miss the atmosphere of Pessach in Israel, and I will miss the promise of Spring.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Free At Last

I danced a little jig yesterday, when my last Chiropractic client left the office, that feeling of freedom from the responsibility of work was overwhelming. Then I pushed the large equipment off to the side, and my office became the official packing room. At the moment I need to decide what to put inside the mere two suitcases we are allowed, and which carry-ons will be most useful during our five hour layover in Heathrow. G-d willing, the information on the web is correct and updated, and there should be no disruption of our flights.

Almost as soon as I closed shop, Michal called me and invited the baby and me to meet her family (Yael and Daniel) at the mall for a meal and some pre-Pessach shopping. Going to a mall in Israel three days before Pessach is like trying to find a parking spot at a mall in America before Christmas, but I eagerly accepted the offer. I have so little fun food in the house, and I will not stock up before we leave Sunday morning, and so dinner of a sorts appealed to my stomach.

The three adults and two babies sat at a restaurant with agonizingly slow service, but it was nice to catch up with them and show off our children. Daniel, born exactly one month before Raphaela, mostly slept while Raphaela could not sit still for a moment, so stimulated by the atmosphere of new people and music and the bustle of the mall. If her activity level yesterday is any indication, I will not sleep at all during the 22 hours that we are in transit...

We also braved the new H and M store, which opened in the space that used to be a nice movie theater, where I bought Raphaela a new dress for seder; I had been so pre-occupied planning outfits for her Simchat Bat after Pessach, that I almost forgot about the holiday itself.

On the way home, we stopped by her care taker, so Raphaela could play a little and more importantly, so she could get her nails cut. Ever since the trauma of watching her cry and bleed, I am afraid to go near her hands with a child's scissors.

Finally home, later that I usually put Raphaela to sleep, and once she was tucked in bed I tried to make sense of all the small and yet important errands that I must complete within the next 36 hours.

Ah, vacation!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Harry Lives! (For Now...)

Tonight the vet could not believe the miraculous recovery she observed in Harry, and now, about 1500 NIS later, I must be meticulous in terms of his eating habits, for the rest of his life. Other than that wrinkle, Harry has indeed returned to himself, and it gives me a great sense of relief and joy. I have no regrets regarding the money spent, he is a member of my family.

Until I think about the warning from the vet, that the stress of being "jailed" indoors for the next three weeks could cause a relapse. I don't even want to think about the effect of construction and drilling on a home bound Harry, should it resume.

Upon careful consideration, I instructed the doctor and will also instruct the cat sitter that there are to be no extreme measures taken to keep him alive if he crashes while I am visiting in the United States. I will enjoy the next four days with the new and improved Harry, and say a silent good-bye when we leave for the airport; and hope that it remains a "See you later" rather than a final farewell.

My neighbor and friend, Savta Naomi, watched Raphaela so I could focus on Harry during the veterinarian visit, and when I picked her up, my daughter was verbal and happy, and even tried to wave good-bye to Savta Naomi as we returned home.

I feel a sense of wonderment that Raphaela Rivka, who was once an idea and a dream, will turn six months old on Friday. I can't wait for her to meet her extended family, and I personally need a vacation from my work and from Israel, as I have not gone overseas or seen my siblings in close to four years.

Now if this streak of good news continues, British Air will resolve all their union issues before Shabbat.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Distraction Leads to Mistakes

With four days before we (may) leave for America (depending upon whether BA will strike this weekend), with the baby in the house while I work, I got distracted. I made a bottle for her and only afterwards did I realize that the ratio of formula to water was double what it should have been.

Thinking I had somehow poisoned Raphaela, I called her pediatrician and was assured that I had not harmed her in any real way, except that she might be constipated and a bit colicky the next few days. I have already started giving her lots of extra water, and I am hoping that the hydration helps avoid a travel disaster.

Meanwhile, Harry has his most important vet appointment tomorrow night, the one that will determine his fate, literally.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lovely Milestones

As she approaches six months, Raphaela has exhibited some milestones which continue to amaze me, and I grow more in love with her every day, as she becomes a real person with her own clear preferences.

Now, when we play with the cloth blocks, she clearly favors the blue rectangle and the yellow square. She ignores the purple semi-circle and will raise her eyebrows at me if I offer it to her.

Raphaela has also started attempting to speak real words, at night I hear her whispering "Da da da da." In the hopes that her first word will be "Mommy," I practice "Ma ma ma ma" with her as well.

As a reward for letting me check email, I go to Youtube and pull up the video of Harry Belefonte singing "Turn the World Around" with the Muppets. Entranced by the African masks, the drumming and Belefonte's soothing voice, Raphaela rocks back and forth and smiles the entire six minutes.

Today, when we sat and had lunch with Savta Shira (our last meeting before the trip next week), Raphaela grabbed Savta Shira's glass of water and drank out of it, without dripping at all. A real pro and so ready for solid foods: I am only holding back because of the restrictions of Pessach.

And then she did the most lovely thing of all: Raphaela gave Savta Shira the most gentle kiss on her cheek, and with adults being the most irrational beings on the planet, her adopted grandmother started crying. Out of joy of course, and it had me in quiet tears as well. (In her previous attempt to give me a kiss on the cheek, my daughter and I had ended up head-butting each other.)

Assuming we make it through this week with sanity intact, I am quite sure that my daughter will enjoy the plane ride, because it will give her the opportunity to meet new people and see new things. I, however, will arrive in Boston exhausted, just trying to keep up with her.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Twas the Week Before Travel

Waiting to not hear from the contractor and hoping that they do not decide to resume construction this week and interfere with my work.

Waiting until the next vet appointment on Wednesday to decide about Harry and hoping that his health crisis has passed.

Waiting to re-check the British Air website on a daily basis and hoping that the threatened strike does not "disrupt" our trip.

Murphy's Law continues to rear its ugly head.

Friday, March 19, 2010

How Did Noah Do it?

There is a Midrash that relates that while in the ark, Noah got bitten by the lion, because breakfast did not arrive in a timely manner. I wonder if the lion was on anti-biotics as well, what Noah would have done.

In the morning, I have four sets of responsibilities, all of which must occur around the same time frame. When Raphaela wakes up, I must changer her diaper, dress her and nurse.

When Harry wakes up these days, I must give him anti-biotics, feed him and let him outside. As long as I am in the garden, I distribute food to the street cat residents of the area.

I water the plants on the porch. They too are living things.

Somewhere in there, I try to have breakfast, brush my teeth, check email, set up the office for my Chiropractic day, and shower.

All this happens before nine in the morning.

I have more respect than ever for working mothers.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

How You Know It's Working

Indeed, the treatment the veterinarian performed last night in unblocking Harry's bladder is working so well that now he is peeing every where in the house, except for the litter box. Apparently, according the doctor, Harry associates the litter box with the pain he felt yesterday, which must have been considerable given that he has the feline version of kidney stones.

I love Harry, but I cannot stand the idea that until he re-balances, the whole house becomes his personal toilet. I have always prided myself on the relative order and cleanliness of my living space, and now I am afraid to step or sit anywhere, in case Harry visited there recently. The vet says this only lasts a few days after catheterizing, but if this persists, I must seriously consider my options of keeping a cat with incontinence.

Raphaela, in a show of unity with Harry, had her own projectile pee when I was getting her ready for her bath tonight. I don't mind having my daughter's urine attack me, she will eventually grow out of it; and if I am being honest, I will choose my human daughter over my feline son.

Especially when I was supposed to take Harry to the vet again tonight, to get rechecked and resupplied with his drugs and special foods, and I could not get a baby sitter to save my life. The week before Pessach, all able bodied teenagers are helping clean house, and all adults seem to be attending weddings.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Conflicting Voices

Within my value system, certain rules stand out, and in this situation with Harry, I have arrived at an impasse.
Rule One: Teach by example and stay consistent in your actions and in your words.
Rule Two: Now that I am a mother, my daughter comes first.
Rule Three: The way a person treats other living non-human things is a good indicator as to what kind of human they are.

I love Harry. I have raised him for the last eight years, since he was a kitten. He taught me how to care for another being who needs you, and he trained me so I am now a better parent than I may have been otherwise.

In a way, Harry is my first born, part of our unconventional family.

I am in fact a single parent, and the sole financial supporter of our family. The money I have spent and will spend on keeping Harry alive essentially comes out of Raphaela's pocket.

I want to teach Raphaela the value of helping others and service to the community, so I work as a Chiropractor and try to help people feel better. I want to teach Raphaela that you don't euthanize your pet just because he isn't human and because his hopefully temporary illness has become a financial, emotional and temporal inconvenience.

I want to teach my child that we sacrifice for the ones we love, and that the price of that sacrifice is worthwhile.

I am disgusted by those Israelis who tire of their pet and drop them off at the side of the highway, hoping they will get run over. I could never look myself in the eyes if I became one of those people.

And yet, we are leaving for the United States in about a week, and will be gone for almost three weeks. How can I leave him in the care of a cat sitter, knowing that she may become overwhelmed by the specialized care he needs? How can I deal with my own feelings of not wanting Harry to vandalize the house, because he is both ill and cooped up for too long?

When I went to the veterinarian with Harry last night, I prepared myself for the very real possibility that like Sarel before him, no treatment would help and I would have to decide whether to put him to sleep. Today Harry is alive and very possibly improved, but there is that practical mother's voice saying, "Cut your losses, can you really handle this feline and your child and the trip and your work? Your daughter comes first."

The conflicting feelings comes from that part of me that almost wishes that the decision had been made for me, by nature.

My Very Own Murphy's Law

Any time I have traveled to the States from Israel, my own version of Murphy's Law states that at least several crises must occur at the most inconvenient times before the trip.

So they started the construction last week, destroying my sanity, my ability to work and my desire to be in my home. At the moment, that has been suspended, though any day now the contractor can call me and let me know that they have resolved their legal issues (they got caught trying to steal land from the common property of the building) and will start again with the drills and the hammers.

Then my cell phone died, I could barely hear conversations and got migraines after using it. The last thing I wanted to do was brave the traffic and the pre-Pessach mall frenzy, but I went and got the phone fixed, as modern tech is a lifeline in these modern times.

Yesterday, Harry came home and stayed inside (odd). He tried to use the litter box in the house (even odder) and could not produce (scary odd). Today he is lethargic and is moaning in pain, all symptoms that his brother Sarel experienced before he died suddenly, when I was seven months pregnant. Tonight I must find a sitter and bring Harry to the veterinarian, to see if he is too far gone and must be put to sleep, or if he can be saved.

Because possibly losing Harry is exactly how I wanted to go into my vacation. I had rather hoped that Harry would be around long enough for Raphaela to learn and speak his name.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Travel Tips

In response to a question posted on a forum, I have compiled a compact list of tips for traveling with a baby or toddler. Thanks also to my care taker, who had some excellent ideas and initiatives.

1. Get your pediatrician to check your child's ear canals and see if they are open enough to avoid serious screaming from the air pressure in the cabin.
2. Various medications are considered "safe" enough to help open the airways and put the child to sleep, including: Histafed, Acamol, homeopathic remedies, Benadryl, Rescue Remedy
3. The moment the plane takes off and as it is landing, plug your child into you if you are nursing, a bottle or a pacifier. The swallowing action helps to break the plug in the ears.
4. Stock your carry-on with everything you can think of in terms of toys, food, several changes of clothing (for you and the baby) and changing supplies. Once the journey begins, save some tricks for later, when your child is restless or crying.
FAQ: What about snack foods?
Answer: Even if you would normally not allow you child to eat junk food, you will want to keep her in a good mood.
FAQ: How do you feed a baby who has started to eat solids?
Answer: Put on a bib and take extra burp cloths for the mess, but feed the baby on your lap.
FAQ: How is it best to change diapers during the flight?
Answer: If it's just wet, try to change the baby at the seat rather than in the cramped toilets. Try to get the scented diaper bags, so you don't suffer if you cannot throw it out right away.
FAQ: What if they don't have a changing station?
Answer: Sit on the toilet with the baby's head near you; that way if they slip, they will fall feet first.
5. Take a light-weight umbrella stroller for older children, or a combination car seat and Snap and Go stroller for younger babies. This stroller can be taken right to the plane itself, and will handed to you as soon as you get off.
6. Reserve a bassinet seat, which provides extra leg room and play space even if the baby does not sleep in the bassinet itself. Once a child is over 9 kilo or one year old, it is better to get them an actual seat, by the window to make it more interesting.
7. Don't get over concerned with keeping the baby's natural rhythm and schedule, assume that she will not sleep the entire time, and that the routine will be thrown off.
FAQ: Do layovers help?
Answer: The ultimate travel time is longer, but you will be able to stretch your legs and help the baby start to deal with jet lag on a gradual basis.
8. Don't feel the need to apologize to other passengers, your baby will cry. Try to sit with other mothers who are more understanding of the situation.
9. Confirm your bassinet seat and travel information as many times as possible. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the airport with a squirming baby.
10. Finally, expect the worst and it can only get better from there.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Allergy Allegory

If my daughter were one of the seven dwarfs, she would be Sneezy.
If my daughter were one of the Star Wars characters, she would be Darth Vader.

With so few genetic diseases, she had to get my seasonal allergies?
Here's hoping that we both breathe better in the United States, where the flora and fauna, and weather, are vastly different.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Our Busy Day

5:30 am Wake up, breast feed (meal)
8:00 am Breast feeding (snack)
8:30 am First phone call of the day to the contractor, to find out if I must move my office and all its supplies today, in preparation for work tomorrow
9:30 am Cleaning woman arrives, as does dust storm outside
10 am Food shopping in the Jerusalem Talpiyot Industrial area, in which I cannot find my breakfast cereal because the entire store has been taken over by Pessach products. I also buy a hand blender, in preparation for Raphaela starting solids in the near future
10:30 am Second phone call of the day to the contractor
11:30 am Arrive home, breast feed (meal)
Noon Third phone call of the day to the contractor, in which he tells me he still has no idea
12:30 pm Meet Savta Shira for lunch, in the Jerusalem Talpiyot Industrial area, buy high chair (on sale before Pessach) in preparation of Raphaela starting solids in the near future
2:00 pm Arrive home
2:45 pm Negotiate via email the purchase of a Chiropractic practice, while breast feeding Raphaela (snack)
3:30 pm Leave house for gynecology appointment, which hurts me much less than usual. I also weigh myself and rejoice in the number (10 pounds less than when I started the pregnancy!)
4:30 pm Arrive home, undress my sweaty over-stimulated child and allow her to revel in her nakedness, before bath time
5:30 pm Bath time, where Raphaela figures out that her rubber ducky squirts water, which she then drinks like she is breast feeding
5:45 pm Breast feeding (meal), a story and my desire to sleep is overcome by my need to get things done while she sleeps. This does not include dinner, unfortunately, as I did not put enough thought into food, I was so distracted and elated by the rest of the day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Joy of Giving

With Pessach and our trip to the United States coming up in two weeks, I have started the traditional Spring Cleaning associated with the season, both for myself and for Raphaela. As she continues to grow, I weed out clothing that no longer fits her, keep the sentimental stuff and the rest I pass on to other mothers of little girls. The other day we made an anonymous donation and it felt so nice to share, especially given that so many have been generous with me, for my daughter.

Now I must go through my closet, following not only the "If you haven't worn it in two years" rule, but also the newest condition of my body, post-birth. My boobs are bigger and my stomach is still a bit flabby, but overall I sit at a smaller weight and size. Furthermore, I feel like my inherent energies have softened and radically altered since becoming a mother, and some of the clothing no longer suits my personality.

The best part about this year is that I don't have to do an hysterical kitchen cleaning, because we will not be in the house for the holiday. Spurred on by the torture of my stupid neighbors and the construction, I have also definitively decided to move out of the city this summer, and the house will get a full cleansing once we leave.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Glorious Laughter

We have a solid bed time routine, starting with a bath, then a story (Maisy's Bedtime, she loves it), then liquid food and a quick snuggle, and then I put Raphaela into her crib.

As a rule, she does not fall asleep right away, but rather engages in Pebbles speak for about twenty minutes, sucks on her bunny doll for a bit, and then gives in to her fatigue.

Last night, I tucked her in, closed the door and did some things around the house, including eat dinner. About a half hour after putting her in bed, I went back into the room to get something and to check on her. I only had to open the door and I heard squeals of delight from Raphaela, so happy she was that I had come to spend time with her. I made eye contact with her and got a huge smile and more laughter.

Nothing I have ever experienced compares to the wonderful feeling from a reception like this from my daughter.

Monday, March 8, 2010

180 Degree Turn

After seeming so helpful and sympathetic on Sunday, the Contractor informed me yesterday that his employer does not care how the construction affects me, my daughter or my work, and that they will be returning in full force by the end of the week. "It will be terrible, you will suffer," he said. He also blamed me for being bored and "unemployed" this week, when it was his side that did not follow the proper procedures.

I desperately need to figure out an alternative to my home office, and so far the five people and places I have investigated have refused me. I was particularly counting on working very hard these next three weeks, to compensate for the three weeks that we will be in the United States for Pessach.

Very practically, I cannot afford to not work for six weeks straight, and I feel like a miserable failure as a parent because I am not being given the chance to provide for my child.

Last night I cried more than I have in a very long time, years, and in the middle of all this, one of my less bright neighbors left two dying kittens at my doorstep. They were so new that they still had remnants of the umbilical cord from birth, and it was clear that their mother abandoned them. In the middle of all this insanity in my life, I tried to feed these kittens (with a syringe) some of my breast milk, and then had to scurry around to find Raphaela a baby sitter, so I could take these babies to the emergency veterinarian in the middle of the night.

I feel like this is all a test, and I have failed. What's worse, I feel like I am slipping into very old and very negative patterns, and am having trouble asking for help.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Oh My Aching Head

At seven this morning, the construction trucks rolled in, and they started knocking down walls.
At eight this morning I tried to call the owner of the property, and he did not answer the phone.
At ten this morning I spoke to the Head Contractor, who assured me that they would work "quietly" and would do everything they could not to antagonize the neighbors.
At twelve noon, the contractor and the owner sat with some of the neighbors in my salon, whereupon we yelled and threatened legal action.
At one pm, the drilling stopped temporarily, thank G-d.

Right now I have a pounding headache, Raphaela has been crying all morning because of the noise and the literal vibration of the house, but it is silent. I have no idea if I will be able to work in my office for the next few weeks because of this disruptive event, but for now, it is silent.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Oh the Guilt

Recipe: Take an overtired under-napped baby, mix in an exhausted mother and supposedly safe child nail clippers.

The result? Instead of trimming her Miracle-Grow nails, I managed to slice off a good chunk of skin, causing bleeding and crying and I can only presume, pain to my daughter.

I had the best of intentions, she was scratching her face despite the fact that her nails had just been cut on Thursday. And yet, the horror and the guilt ruined my entire weekend, produced by the knowledge that I had (caution: drama) damaged - even temporarily - my daughter's perfect little fingers.

As a first time parent and as a human being, I know that I am far from perfect and will make plenty of mistakes in raising Raphaela; but I cannot stand the idea that I caused her suffering.

Eventually I will get over this feeling, and my feline Harry is proof: when he was a kitten and constantly underfoot, I would infrequently step on his tail. He would screech, run away, but eight years later, Harry is still underfoot and it is clear by his behaviour that he has forgiven me.

Meanwhile, I will ask Raphaela's care taker to cut her nails during the day when I am working.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Ugliness Speaks for Itself

In today's Haaretz, Rabbi David Greenstein wrote in an op-ed piece:
"Now we have news of one more step toward a genetically based definition of Jewishness. Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Halperin, a prominent figure connected to Chareidi rabbis and the government in Israel, has announced that rabbinic authorities, whom he refuses to name and whose legal reasoning is unavailable for study, have overturned hitherto accepted definitions of Jewishness such that the religion of the birthing mother will not determine whether her baby is Jewish. The criterion will now be whether the source of the fertilized egg is a Jewish woman."

To make this hideous development more palpable, should this bill pass in the Knesset, it would mean that my child conceived by an unknown sperm donor is Jewish, no debate necessary. My friend's twins, however, conceived with donor eggs and her husband's sperm, after they suffered through every other fertility process known within the modern medical community, are not Jewish.

Shame on Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Halperin, shame on the Knesset and shame on all the Jews if this is allowed to pass.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Construction Site

For several years now, the owners of the storage rooms below my apartment have been threatening to convert the half-submerged space into a living space; though I have no idea who would want to live half underground with low ceilings and a high radon gas risk.

When I renewed my rental contract last June, I asked the owner of my apartment - who happens to be the cousin of the owners of the storage space - regarding the probability that there would be serious construction within the year. He replied that it was highly unlikely, but that he would certainly inform me well in advance of the chaos, noise and dust that accompanies a major overhaul. At the time, I was most concerned that it would happen around Succot time, when I was due to give birth.

Tonight, my upstairs architect neighbor mentioned to me that the construction was starting next week, and he assumed (from the anguished look on my face) that no one had told me that I would have no peace, literally under my feet. Not to mention being unable to park my car or open any windows in my home because of the dust and dirt, and the complete lack of privacy or security with entire crews walking in and out of the building all day.

My neighbor only knew about this upcoming trauma because he has connections with the contractor slated to oversee the work. He and his wife were just as upset, because the owner of the storage room had not had the courtesy to inform anyone in the building, owner or renter. (How typically Israeli...)

Even owning this information, I have no idea how this will affect Raphaela and myself practically speaking. I don't know how noisy it will be, how extensive the plans are for construction and reconstruction of the area, nor do I know within which hours all this will take place. There is no chance in hell that Raphaela will fall asleep at her usual time, if they are still banging and drilling downstairs.

I can be fairly certain, however, that it will disrupt my Chiropractic home-office working schedule, which was quite key for me financially before we leave for the States for three weeks for Pessach. I am also uncomfortable with the idea that while I am away and my house is unattended except for the occasional visiting cat sitter, these Arab construction men will have full access to the building. I fear that a water pipe may burst, or there may be some real harm to my apartment because of the work below, and I will not be here to do damage control, or supervise repairs.

I had been planning to start house hunting once we returned from the States, and now it has only become more of a priority.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Allergy Challenge

On the occasion of the torrential downpours that enveloped Purim, Raphaela got a runny nose and I started with my seasonal allergies, which arrive like clockwork around this time, and don't end until after Shavuot.

So here we are, a baby who screams every time she has to get her nose wiped and a single mother who is desperate to get sleep but cannot breathe properly. Raphaela sleeps more than I have been able to, though this morning I woke her up at four am with my coughing, and she has been awake ever since. I keep thinking that if I had a husband, I could hand her off to him, and I could get a nap somewhere in between work and child care.

My care taker today squirted some breast milk into Raphaela's nostrils, which seems to have cleared out much of the mucous, very cool! (Less cool for me, as my doctor and her pediatrician have informed me that I cannot take anti-histamine medication as long as I am breast feeding.)

I am hoping that tonight we will both sleep more soundly.